The Open Letter: ‘Call for a Full and Unrestricted International Forensic Investigation Into the Origins of COVID-19’

It’s very much worth reading the open letter signed by 26 scientists. (I’m linking here to the version hosted by The Wall Street Journal, but the type looks weirdly squished. The copy hosted by The New York Times looks better, but in their copy, none of the links are actually links — they’re just blue underlined text. Better to link to the typographically-flawed version that has the actual links. I’m hosting a copy for posterity as well.) From the letter:

Although the “collaborative” process of discovery mandated by the World Health Assembly in May 2020 was meant to enable a full examination of the origins of the pandemic, we believe that structural limitations built into this endeavor make it all but impossible for the WHO-convened mission to realize this aspiration.

Based on our analysis, and as confirmed by the global study convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese authorities, there is as yet no evidence demonstrating a fully natural origin of this virus. The zoonosis hypothesis, largely based on patterns of previous zoonosis events, is only one of a number of possible SARS-CoV-2 origins, alongside the research-related accident hypothesis.

In particular, we wish to raise public awareness of the fact that half of the joint team convened under that process is made of Chinese citizens whose scientific independence may be limited, that international members of the joint team had to rely on information the Chinese authorities chose to share with them, and that any joint team report must be approved by both the Chinese and international members of the joint team.

We have therefore reached the conclusion that the joint team did not have the mandate, the independence, or the necessary accesses to carry out a full and unrestricted investigation into all the relevant SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses - whether natural spillover or laboratory/research- related incident.

We are also concerned that the joint team’s work has been inaccurately reported by the media as an independent investigation whose conclusions reflect those of the WHO. The February 9, 2021 Wuhan joint press conference was a good example of this misunderstanding. Although the findings were those of the joint team, they were widely reported as representing the WHO itself.

The letter goes on to describe what a truly full investigation would look like.

Saturday, 6 March 2021